Thursday, March 31, 2011


What beautiful sunshine we're experiencing. True, the sun shines often down here but there's something especially nice about the Autumn variety. It inspired us to dig up the vegie patch yesterday (a perfect place to remember Dad who had the largest vegie 'patch' I've ever seen - really, it was a paddock!). Elsa collected our last bowl-full of the season - yellow pear tomotoes - and then took so many photos of them! Not sure where she learnt that! This last bowl should do nicely on the pizza we're making tonight. Now we're in planning mode for our autumn garden.

Perhaps all this sunshine is what inspired me to start this cardigan for Elsa. The colour is 'Camomile' but she calls it "sunshine". I love this 'knitting in the round' business, no seams! I could be addicted, if I'm not already. In the words of the Whitlams "it was the beginning of the end, if I wasn't already in the middle". But I think Tim had something other than knitting in mind!

Her response to this latest project? "Mama, is that bit of sunshine knitting really for me?" "Yes Elsa it certainly is, and it reminds me of sunshine. Elsa: "Wow, again? You're my best Mama" (despite this comment, she does know I'm her only Mama! Though it would be nice to have an extra set of hands around here at times!). Mama: "Thanks Elsa" Elsa: "Mama, will you knit for me even when I'm a lady, when I'm all grown up?" Mama: "I'm sure I will" . Elsa: "That's soooooo exciting. I don't like wool but I might when I grow up".

HUH!?!! Oh no! And I felt panic surge through my body. Oh no, not now, not yet, she can't object to wearing wool yet! Looking at the pile of it in my lap, the latest cardigan well-underway, the waiting balls nearby I hoped she was kidding while realising all the while that her three year old sense of humour is not yet so developed. Taking a breath, I reminded myself that she actually likes wearing wool but recently heard another child express his dislike of all things woollen and was 'trying it on' for size, so to speak. So, I ignored the comment and went on knitting.

We also changed over the Nature/Celebration Table last week farewelling the shells, sand and bright yellow silk in place of fallen leaves, twigs, nuts, it's void of all things yellow with the exception of the rare tinge amongst fallen leaves and this little fellow of course.

All this sunshine inspires one of my favourite things. Eating outdoors with lovely friends of course. A good excuse to eat scones with butter and jam. Does one need an excuse?

And I love how the sun moves further into the house as we move closer and closer towards winter. Now, that placement of yellow in this photo looks completely contrived but really, it wasn't, unless Raf was providing some 'artistic input' when he abandoned his 'bug' in the middle of the room to run with his big sister.

Happy, happy, bright, yellow, sunshiny days to you whether they're with you right now or just around the corner.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Never need I be afraid.
No matter how uncertain things may be.
Sometimes through me, sometimes in spite of me
You seem to find your purpose in my life.
I know failure in my life,
The central to my heart.
When I have strayed or fallen in my life,
You gently set me on my feet again.
(Eagles Wings)

Here we are again at the anniversary of my Dad's death. Three years, unbelievable. Bare with me while I reflect.

I'm wondering how Mum is feeling this morning and remembering all too well this morning three years ago when one of my brothers called from the pallative care unit (where Dad had been for only 5 days - he wasn't into "messing about") to say that he had passed away. My sisters and I were at the family home preparing to head back to the hospital where we'd been for most of the week, Elsa was crawling around in the loungeroom helping us to smile and, all of a sudden, we were devastated. The unbelivable had happened. And it had happened on his terms, as much as we're ever in control of death.

After his funeral, Mum told us that in this final days Dad told her not to worry about the funeral arrangements, it wouldn't be a huge event as the area had changed and no-one much remembered him, that "the boys" (meaning my seven brothers) would take care of it, she needn't worry. He truly believed that after making a contribution to public and community life for so long, he'd quietly disappeared from the minds and hearts of a wider community that had grown and changed significantly over the years. Apparently he was quite matter-of-fact about it, it was just the way it was, no big deal.

The reality was quite different and I wish we could point out to him just how wrong he was - we didn't often have an opportunity to correct him in life! In reality, hundreds and hundreds flocked to the church and wake to celebrate his life, offices were closed, streets blocked off in all directions, the police controlled parking and traffic and and ensured his whole, huge immediate and extended family got to the church safely and easily, police and local school children formed guards of honour along major nearby roads, the school choirs from the schools of both his daughters and sons sang throughout the mass (including his favourites, 'Amazing Grace', 'Hail Glorious St. Patrick' and the latin, 'sum tum') and the football club he had followed all his life (and sat on the Board of for years) hosted and completely organised the wake...I could go on and essence, contributions came from all over the community he had loved and devoted so much of his time and energy towards. So, though I'm sure he wouldn't have seen all this "fuss" as necessary, I'm sure he would've felt quite honoured and humbled.

We all remember you so very well Dad and thank you for your contribution to family and community. And three years on, we still miss you and know that we always will. The pain hasn't left us but it has changed shape as we've moved along the path without you. Thanks for all the lessons...I'm reminded of a Prayer of the Faithful from his funeral mass read by his eldest grandchild, Lachlan.

"For Poppa's joy in the simple things in life, may we learn to emulate him".

When I explained to Elsa why I've been sad this morning, she responded in a kind, empathetic way "I know Mama, he was my Poppa too so I'm sad too but it's okay, he's happy in heaven with Jedda". (Jedda was my dad's dog who died this past Christmas while we were at Mum's). So true Elsa, once he knew if was inevitable, he was looking forward to experiencing that heaven place for himself. It's been a tough morning, thanks for listening.

One of my nephews recently came across these photos at the National Library of Australia. Wikipedia has started something too... Parliament Doc. And...I just like this photo And this one that has always hung in his study And honoured at one of his favourite places

Friday, March 25, 2011


My Densyse Schmidt cushion-covers that I've been meaning to photograph for a while now. I went for the quick and easy option - no zippers, no piping, beautiful.
And here's the new zip-up vest that I've started for D (pattern from my current favourite book). I hope to have it finished for his birthday in May and I'm actually liking my chances because it's knitting up very quickly. He doesn't like the varigated yarn look so I've subsituted the recommended yarn with a Jo Sharp yarn and am knitting two strands together using 6mm needles thanks to a recommendation from Wool Baa. Not sure what colour zipper I'll use, probably orange or red. Actually, orange. Da man is a green and orange kinda guy.

I said 'vestS' didn't I. Well, I just sourced the yarn to knit a vest for Rafa too and hope to have it done for Spring, realistically, mainly because I'm knitting him a red cardigan for winter and I've already started a yellow cardigan for Elsa too. It's going to be a busy knitting season. One of the joys of not having had a typical Summer is that I've been able to start knitting projects in February, even January. Wooohooo. That's a first for me.

And yesterday was a day of firsts for our little 18 month old; his first play with play-dough, his first time climbing a tree (albeit a low-to-ground version!) and his first time saying "YUM" (and he said it over and over again every time food came anywhere near him!). Oh, he's so lovely.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A little farewell 'party' for Summer (yes, we still go by the solstices around here; definitely all that Canadian influence). So, Sunday was our day to bid adieu to Summer, until she comes again. She put on a good show; there appeared to be more shells than usual and we stole a few for ourselves. The water wasn't too cold either, not that I intended to get wet but of course I did.

Once upon a time, Summer and I had a great thing going on. Growing up in Sydney, and even during my 20s including times living overseas, I revelled in both the idea and reality of Summer. I was happy to bask on the beach for hours (probably too long), swim in the surf or lake or river depending on where I was, hike in the heat of the day, you name it. These days, mainly for reasons I won't go into now, Summer is not my favourite season but this year it was so mild that, personally, I greatly enjoyed it. What I didn't enjoy was watching so many people and so many environments challenged in mammoth ways by natural disaster. Obviously,the poem below doesn't relate to those circumstances. And man-o-man, I am clearly no poet but I once loved to 'dabble' and I hope to do so more often because it's fun!

Often like an intense party guest
I'm happy to chat with you a while
then retire to a distant, quiet space to take a clear, easy breath
free of your hot, penetrating gaze
free of your ceaseless, lengthy banter
free of your persistant, scorching engagement
I'm ever so grateful you relaxed a while
pleased that you took a back seat
noticed my lack of interest
my need for a reprieve
my need for peace
but never fear, they'll be more opportunities to come
more parties in which to shine
but your enthusiasm is dampened for a while
until, no doubt, you'll go back to your old ways

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Following a visit to Angela Baby last Friday, Rafael now has his first 'big' boy shoes and he's very impressed with himself. Thanks lovely friends in Canada, he hascopious pairs of Robeez (as Elsa did at his age) and while he'll continue to wear them, it was time for some extra foot support. He's so proud of himself! I also picked up some boots for Elsa and another, larger-sized boot for Rafa. Shoes for Winter 2011 done!

Angela Baby is an interesting place. It is owned by first generation Italians (Sicilians to be precise) and has operated in Melbourne for 21 years. A friend put me onto them and I think we'll be back over and over for the classic, European styles.

"Stop Gnocchi, STOP, look at my cool new shoes!"

His first outing in the new shoes was combined with a touch of fairy-hunting. No sitings made but plenty of evidence gathered. They lurk in the trickiest of hiding spots.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I know, I know, I don't post for what seems like FOREVER and then I have so much to say! I just finished this elf hat for Elsa from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts and she's loving it. A great super quick and easy knit. And so much fun too!

Her brother received one for Christmas made by a big cousin and likes his just as much, though obviously it's not the season for these yet but for now they're a great play item. I'm looking forward to the first excuse to wear them for warmth, when I can take my little elfs out to the 'woods' to play.
I've recently embarked on a few more projects from this book too, the largest being a vest for da man. Such a great book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My Rowan Lottie is complete! Okay, so it took me a while but the wool is 4 ply after all (mostly knit on 3.35m needles) and I did have a baby in between and, you know, life happened but now that it's finally here, I'm happy with it and Elsa is too. I knitted a longer sleeve and body length than the pattern called for so hopefully she'll be wearing it for the next few winters.

Apparently, it's suitably "soft and cozy" which increases the chances of her wearing it. I would knit it again only this is the largest size in the pattern (but perhaps in red for Rafa minus the flower trim, which by the way was so quick and easy to knit).

All this commentary about "soft and cozy" and requests for "not too scratchy" takes me back to a time when Mum was knitting for me and I would complain (incessantly) if something was "too itchy", "too tight", "too rough" etc etc. Perhaps we've entered a similar realm with Elsa where seemingly all of a sudden she's aware of exactly what she likes to wear, down to her preferred materials, colours and styles. It's just the beginning but it's sure to intensify (if she's anything like I was as a child anyhow!). For now, thankfully purple and this particularly yarn hit the spot.


What a great summer for truly enjoying the outdoors without (generally) the usual heat-related lethargy, scorching sun, wilting plants and early morning rush to the enjoy the beach before the sun denies you the privelage of doing so!

Summer is not usually synonymous with baking either but, we embarked on all varieties of it over the course of February. Rafael even took to stirring mixtures and pounding dough. I'm looking foward to sharing more of our kitchen time with him over the coming months, and years (!). And a few visits to the Zoo, gardening, plenty of bike rides, swimming lessons for Elsa and frequent dancing in front of the stereo at home.
And he discovered painting
At the Yarraville Festival

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Following Christmas we stayed with my brother and co. in Austinmer, N.S.W. I spent a significant portion of my teenager (and younger) years at the beaches in this area because they were the closest to our home. They are still the beaches closest to most of my siblings and certainly my Mum. It was nice to be around siblings, swim in the ocean, eat fish n' chips, bbq by the water etc all the typical 'stuff' that constitutes an Australian beach holiday. The kids had SO much fun. While there, and soon after leaving, D and I were drawn into the standard conversation about 'going back' but after arriving back in Melbourne, it doesn't take long before the lure of Sydney and surrounds softens (until next visit!).

And home to a burgeoning vegetable garden!


I'm not often here and when I am, I barely seem to have time to update this space, which is a shame for me because it's one of my favourite ways of reflecting on days spent with the kids, with my husband and, occassionally, myself. When exactly do we get to do that - reflect that is?! And for me, it's always been an important 'job' but gone are the days of sitting for hours with pen and journal and/or postcards in hand recounting and 'breaking down' the day that's been. Gosh, I once did SO much of that, usually in a foreign country where and when it seemed easy to almost pensively wallow in a thought, insight or experience. Not that it was necessarily in a melancholy way. Anyhow, my point is that I need to take that time out for myself a little more often and this is a way of doing so. So, here's a little 'moment' or two of reflecting on our past few months.
I think for me this photo partially sums up some of the negative aspects of this past summer. What a barrage of unexpected devastation! Floods, earthquakes, a cyclone and now, the recent combination of an earthquake and a tsunami. We're searching for a way to contribute in some meaningful way that will help (albeit at a small scale) some of the people affected by one of the disasters. Not sure what that will be yet.

Personally, we've had a lovely summer; what seqway is appropriate moving from discussion of devastation to highlighting the positive? But we have, it's been a nice summer for us in which we enjoyed Christmas in Sydney with my family, visits to the beach, playing in water at every opportunity, baking more than is usual over summer (it's been so nice to have a mild one!) and plenty of socialising with friends we haven't seen in months. Also due to the mild summer, I've been knitting more than I ever have at this time of the year. More on that later.
Some Christmas shots...

A little wombat for Rafael for Christmas

Some pre-Christmas gardening

A new hat for Rafa courtesy of one of his cousins

Watching the 'cricket-pitch' at Mum's

Christmas baking